The first release of the complete score to “Son of the Morning Star” is released in a double-CD album by Intrada Records.

Buy it here on Intrada Records!

  • Perhaps Craig Safan’s finest score, certainly his most emotionally powerful, finally expanded! Mike Robe directs massive 2-part ABC mini-series from Evan S. Connell novel chronicling rich examination of George Armstrong Custer. Robe provides most detailed look at legendary soldier ever made by Hollywood. Gary Cole brings Custer to vivid life, Rosanna Arquette plays wife Elizabeth, Rodney A. Grant is Sioux leader Crazy Horse, other cast includes Dean Stockwell, David Strathairn. Melissa Mathison scripts, focuses on last decade of Custer’s life, climaxing with fateful Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. As does book and film, Safan finds inspiration in Custer as man, not myth, neither hero nor villain. Score anchors with not one but several primary thematic ideas, all of them colored with degree of sorrow: lean, wide-interval solo trumpet line with nods to military and solitude of Custer, incredibly moving string orchestra theme highlighting Custer’s actions and place in history, haunting melody (heard first in brass but typically on oboe) for “Libby”. Strings dominate much of score, woodwinds carry intimate solo lines, Americana colors carry weight… but always the mournful trumpet hovers, cries, pierces. Keynote everywhere is sadness. Fans of composer’s action-heavy The Last Starfighter score also get their day with numerous aggressive brass-led cues underscoring vivid warfare between U.S. Army and Sioux warriors, culminating at Little Big Horn. Safan also wrote several pieces for Native American flute, accompanied sparingly by tom toms, deer-hoof rattles plus synthesizer drones. Independent of orchestral material, these are none-the-less used beautifully as score underlining scenes of Sioux life. In addition, Safan fashions handful of Irish period pieces functioning as score plus adapts key “Garryowen” tune that became basis for Custer’s own marching song as he went into battle. Highlights in 100-minute score are numerous, but emotional spotlight goes to tragic strings of “Washita Massacre”, passioned and emotional final parting sequence, “The Big Goodbyes”, propulsive action of cues focusing on Little Big Horn. Extra special spotlight goes to brief but powerful “A Good Day To Die”, underlining beautifully directed sequence of Sioux warriors readying for battle juxtaposed with image of Custer leading charging 7th Cavalry inexorably into history. As the tragic theme swells, Safan commands his brass to the fore in a magnificent orchestral peroration in the major, a rare sonority in this minor-key dominated masterpiece! Intrada first visited Safan’s work in a single CD of highlights after the film’s 1991 premiere. For this oft-requested return to the beloved classic, Intrada expands the music across 2-CDs, presenting everything in film sequence with all original Native American and Irish cues appearing as composer intended.

Reviews Start Coming in for “Sirens”

Here are several new reviews of Craig Safan’s new album “Sirens: Music Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey”.

Milhnea Manduteanu –

Craig Safan recreates a world, or more worlds, even, that me as a listener become part of and I just love taking this journey with him. The way he mixes sounds and different instruments, some electronic, other orchestral, simply works.

The way he mixes sounds and different instruments, some electronic, other orchestral, simply works.

The complexity of this work, the multiple layers of music and emotion, the dreamy state, the questions, everything works and lights up my imagination; I want sequels, I want to hear and explore more from this world. If you want to hear something different and discover an artist’s own vision about a legendary story, do not miss this album.

Anne Carlini –

With a style consisting of often improvising as a form of composition that allowed him to quickly express himself, trust me when I say that his was the most perfect choice of composer for this highly expressive work of musical art.

Listening to each and every track – twice now, I’ll have you know – the complete, new opus of work transports the listener into the world of Odysseus and the Sirens seamlessly; track to track.

Chris Hadley – Film Score Monthly

Sirens is a wondrous experience that serves as another example of Safan’s compositional abilities. Instead of strictly adhering to the chronological progression of Odysseus’ arc in The Odyssey, or of creating set pieces that correspond to major story milestones in the poem, the composer uses his music for Sirensto represent the timeless emotions that he and others have felt while reading the dramatic journey.

Anett Fodor – Music and Vision Daily

Calm and stormy seas, birds and bird-like sirens, beautiful nymphs and frightening creatures, gods and demi-gods all seemed to come alive in my imagination. At the same time I felt a kind of continuous motion and the rhythm of a perpetual journey. The latter is conveyed by the frequent use of pulsating ostinatos, appropriate tempi and strong accents. However, Safan uses different musical techniques to express feelings. The blending of classical instruments with new electronic techniques combined in melodious, catchy themes, resulting in an unusual orchestration. One can feel both the old and the new — an alloy of the familiar with innovative ideas — on every track.

Varese Sarabande releases Safan’s new album “Sirens – Music Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey”

Buy it now on Varsese Sarabande Records!

SIRENS is inspired partly by my love of THE ODYSSEY and partly by my lifelong love of myths. I’ve been enchanted by both since I was a child.  My first memory of reading is sitting in my grammar school library delighting in a book of Greek myths.  These tales and their magic have resonated throughout my life.  In university I studied the works of James Frazer and Joseph Campbell, later visiting the Paleolithic caves of France and Spain.  These travels let to my composing ROUGH MAGIC, music inspired by humanity’s first artworks.

With SIRENS I’m not portraying the literal tales in THE ODYSSEY, but rather the innermost feelings and memories they convey.  The inward experience and journey,  the wanderings of our lives, our relationship to family and home, and the deeper sonorities of existence.  SIRENS is most importantly an immersive experience which might take one to another world where myth, magic, and sensuality are on the surface and upfront.

In preparing to compose SIRENS, I wanted to visit some of the actual locations that appear in THE ODYSSEY.  I found that while they are mostly unknown and imaginary, many scholars put them in and around Sicily.  There I found many places that are named after the sirens, the cyclops,  the wind god, Aeolus, and Odysseus, as well as the straits where Scylla and Charybdis lurked.  I traveled along the coast and visited the Aeolian Islands, exploring caves and ancient quarries, recording the natural sounds and the unique echoes and reverberations of each.  Those “reverbs” (converted into computer programs) are the only ones used on the entire album.

I truly enjoyed entering this mythic world and composing its music.  Close your eyes, let the present drop away, and dive into the world of the Sirens, Odysseus, and your forgotten past.

Craig Safan

January, 2018

Dallas Chamber Symphony Performs Chaplin’s “The Kid” with a new score by Craig Safan

Tuesday at Dallas City Performance Hall, the Dallas Chamber Symphony continued its highly commendable series of silent cinema from the 1920s accompanied by new, live music. This time around, one of the masterpieces of that era, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, met up with new music specially composed by Craig Safan (whose long list of credits includes Stand and Deliver and The Last Starfighter, to name only two) for an event that was both revelatory and unforgettable.

Working with a small acoustic orchestra of barely more than a dozen players—in contrast to the vast digital and symphonic resources available in Hollywood today—composer Safan creates a sound world to match Chaplin’s epic emotional range. Appropriately, Safan evokes, without slavishly imitating, the rhythms and energy of ragtime and Gershwin-esque, 1920s jazz; obvious but effective appropriations include Chopin’s Funeral March, “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,” “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds,” and “There’s No Place Like Home.” Still more significant and admirable are Safan’s creation of several broadly emotional melodic motifs, winding their way meaningfully through Chaplin’s plot, as well as his striking use of silence. No swooping violins when child-star Jackie Coogan pleads; masterful Hollywood hand Safan, experienced with intergalactic battles and epic car chases, knows exactly when to let what’s happening on the screen speak for itself.